CLINTON — The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre season opens Thursday with “The King and I,” a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical running daily through June 18 with two shows on June 14 and 17.

Directed and choreographed by CAST Artistic Director Jay Berkow, the production features the talents of Showboat favorite Nicole Horton (Meg in 2005’s “Damn Yankees”) as Anna and newcomer Ben Cole as the King.

Also featured in the cast are Paul Luoma and Maggie Mountsier, as well as Thea Engelson, Shane Miller and Isaac Jankowski. This production also boasts the return to CAST of Colin Douglas. Douglas played the Scrooge in the CAST Christmas production of “A Christmas Carol.”

He also played such roles as Fagin (“Oliver!”), Horace Vandergelder (“Hello, Dolly!”), Doolittle (“My Fair Lady”) and others dating back to his first appearance nine years ago as the Major General in “Pirates of Penzance.”

“The King and I” is a musical telling of the true story of Anna Leonowens and her life as the tutor to the children of the King of Siam. CAST officials say it is brought to the Showboat stage with all the passion, humor and magnificent music that has made it one of the most enduring classics of American musical theatre.

In the 1860s, Mrs. Anna Leonowens was appointed by the King of Siam as the teacher of his children. He wanted to give them (and himself) a “modern” education, to impress visiting dignitaries with how up-to-date he was, so that they would accept him as a world leader, like them. He thought it would be a simple communication of knowledge and understanding, like someone learning a new set of jargon.

This naive and misguided motive, seeking to impress without really wanting modernity, produced a clash of cultures. Anna kept a scrupulous and detailed diary of the whole affair. It was made into a film starring Rex Harrison, which was more historically accurate than the later musical version.

Notable songs from the score include “Something Wonderful,” “Getting to Know You,” Hello Young Lovers” and “Whistle a Happy Tune.”

“The King and I” opened on Broadway in 1952 starring Yul Brenner and Gertrude Lawrence. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 242-6760.

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